After another wet weather week off, the Byron Bay Rams returned to action at Seabreeze against an in-form Pottsville side – the first of a marathon six consecutive away games for the Rams.
A spate of injuries, suspensions and unavailability saw the Rams return to a more traditional 4-4-2 formation with Layton Barton in goal, Toby Barton, Sam Robson, Nolan Pierce and Ian Lennie at the back, Aaron Richter-Steers, Tim Knight, Mav White and Yantra Whitling in mid-field with Jordy Campbell and Jonno Pierce up front. With a such fast line-up, a high tempo and an aggressive start from the Rams was to be expected. The Rams pack tore into Pottsville with controlled power and speed. Knight, Pierce and Whitling caused havoc up and down the flanks while Richter-Steers, in imperious form in the mid-field, delivered passes around the park at will. Campbell was in tremendous form up front and never gave the Pottsville defenders a moment’s respite. A goal seemed sure to come as Richter-Steers hit the post from close, Tim Knight hit the keeper and chances fell to Barton, Whitling, Pierce, Richter-Steers and White.
Mav slotted into the mid-field partnership with Richter-Steers like an old hand and despite the age difference, the pair played like old mates to totally control the middle of the park. Campbell saw plenty of action, and with Pierce, Knight, White and Whitling surging forward in support it was a busy night for the stretched Pottsville defence.
The game remained – surprisingly – scoreless at the break, so the half time talk was simple: ‘more of the same but put the ball in the net’.
The Rams came out fired up for the second half and Pottsville strugglied to hold on. Sam Robson and Toby Barton hammered the Pottsville defence with supporting overlaps and a rampant Tim Knight caused havoc with his great pace down the right.
Campbell was again busy, always involved and playing the target role to great effect. With swarms of pacy youngsters playing off his deft touches it seemed a goal had to come. Campbell forced a good save from the keeper after a neat control and turn and was unlucky not to have scored.
Jonno Pierce finally broke the deadlock in the 54th minute, firing the ball home after some great combination work from Knight and Campbell.
There was no let up from the Rams, with White and Richter-Steers surging forward in support. A powerful turn-and-shoot from Campbell was parried by the keeper, only to be driven home cooly from 8 metres out by Yantra Whitling.
Tommy Ruhl replaced a tiring Knight in the 75th minute – Knight returning to the side for his first start of the season to perform well.
Sloppy defending allowed Pottsville a glimmer of hope, with a well taken goal in the 80th minute reducing the deficit. It was a wake up call the Rams needed and with skipper Lennie and Richter-Steers leading by example, the ship was steadied and the Rams held on for three thoroughly deserved points.
Further chances in the final few minutes should have seen the goal count reflect Byron’s overall superiority but, as has happened so often this year, the Rams failed to finish many opportunities.
Mav White was man-of-the-match with a great game in mid-field. Jordy Campbell was in great form and stand out games from Richter-Steers and Lennie laid the foundation for a fine team performance.
Barton was never in trouble in goal and Sam Robson at left back displayed his usual excellence. Nolan Pierce is settling into his defensive role with assurance and aplomb and older brother Jon is back to his penetrative best.
Overall, a good win for Byron against quality opposition.
The reserves continued their good form with a solid 3-1 win. Corey Montgomery returned to action following his recent off-field injury to score the opener, only to have the Rams pegged back by a blinding goal from wide right. The lead was restored by Jack White with a cool and clinical finish from 12metres. White added his second in the second half to take the Reserves to another well-deserved win.
Mens Sixth Division
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It was a miserable day for Pottsville as the soar-away Byron 6ths continued their unbeaten run with a fine 3-0 win in the first game of the day. The years rolled back with goals from evergreen Pete Keenan and a bullet header from Ian McGlone following up the game’s first minute opener.
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Mens First Division and Premier Womens
Byron’s First Division squad went down 3-0 and the Women’s Premier squad drew 3-3 with Rovers in the Friday night game to remain in title contention.